By: Leslie Hamilton, Features Editor
Staying motivated and keeping up morale is tough during any school semester; however, the spring semester seems to be significantly harder than the fall semester or a summer class session. The particular period of the semester that we are in at the moment is notably hard with recovering from St. Pat’s and the annual post St. Pat’s illness, midterm exams and midterm grades posting, and Spring Break just a few days away. This period can be a rude awakening for many, a calm time for few, and a time where motivation is at an all time low. I lovingly refer to this time as the mid-semester slump. I like to imagine that if St. Pat’s was not a thing at S&T – side note, I would never wish that to happen – then mid-semester slump would not seem so painful. I also imagine that if we just went straight into Spring Break right after St. Pat’s instead of having this awkward week in between, that student morale would be significantly higher – talk about an ideal situation. Personally, I cannot remember a year where I did not dread the week after St. Pat’s, especially when multiple professors schedule exams for that week.
Regardless of my own disdain for the week after St. Pat’s, this three week period can bring forth the realization that the semester is quickly approaching its end. Additionally, midterms posting can be a rude awakening that you only have a few weeks to get your act together after a bad midterm grade. For that reason, it is essential to explore your options and be realistic.
Historically, my grades are always slightly lower than they are in the fall. I typically contribute that to winter break only being a month for me to hit the refresh and regain my motivation versus the three months for summer break to recuperate before the fall semester begins. A month just is not enough for me to find my motivation to resume classes in the spring; however, the three week mid-semester slump in the spring, versus two weeks in the fall, does not help my case either. Regardless, I have been there and had poor midterm grades and have had to hold myself accountable for my shortcomings. It is extremely discouraging and it can be hard to find the motivation when it seems like outcome is up to chance. If you find yourself in the same place, I suggest that you really evaluate your standing in the class and what the chances are of you passing or raising your grade. I cannot tell you how important it is to be realistic about this because I have been optimistic before about recovering my grade and it has rarely worked out in my favor. With the being said, midterm grades are not always a true display of how you will do in the class depending how the professor grades. This is more of a situational occurrence, but nevertheless, it is best to talk to your professor, ask their opinion on the matter, and work out possible grade outcomes. If it does not look great, drop the class, even withdraw from and take the “WD” on your transcript if your GPA is of concern. I regret letting my pride get in the way of dropping a class.
Speaking of pride, if you are not doing great, do not let your pride get in the way of asking for help or seeking the accommodations that you need to succeed in school. S&T can be hard for some students, regardless of how hard you try, and everyone needs help at some point. Go to LEAD sessions, seek out a tutor, go to your professor’s office hours, look into the testing center, go to seminars aimed at helping you succeed, find out what works for you and stick to it. In short, use the campus resources that you pay for.
Lastly, at some point, if all else fails, evaluate your happiness in your major and perhaps, even at S&T. With advising week this week and class registration coming up, this would be a prime time for you to evaluate if you are happy with what you are studying and future career opportunities. It comes down to if you are not happy with your major, change it.. If you are not particularly happy with your studies/progress at S&T, think about what you did not like about your past schedule(s) and strategically plan your next schedule for your own personal success or consider some alternative options. Alternative options, could range anywhere from talking to older students about recommended professors and classes, transferring, doing some classes at a community college and returning to S&T, taking summer and online classes in courses that you might otherwise struggle in at S&T, and to taking a night class at Columbia College. Ultimately, it is about your personal happiness and setting yourself up for success.